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“Who let the dogs out?”: Proposed Pet Ban Divides University Community

If New Rules Are Approved, Most Animals Will be Barred From Entering Campus Buildings

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

Photo by Andrew Cardno

University management have launched a second attempt to ban dogs and other animals from campus- five years after similar plans were defeated due to staff outcry.

If enacted, a draft policy reviewed by The Gaudie would result in all animals (except service animals, therapets, and working animals) being prohibited from entering University buildings.

Likewise, while emotional support animals will be permitted to reside in Hillhead, students would be barred from bringing them into campus buildings.

The University pointed to several incidents in which dogs “impeded escape during fire drills and caused trips and falls” as part of the rationale for revisiting the ban.

The policy also addressed a number of risks created by allowing animals on campus, including the spread of zoonoses, food contamination, injuries, and zoophobia.

Several staff members have spoken out against the ban. Nathaniel Greene, a lecturer in the School of DHPA, told The Gaudie that bringing his dog Odin to campus has enabled him to connect with his students on a deeper level.

He said: “Having the privilege to bring Odin into the office with me has made the UoA one of the best contexts in which I can carry out my work. Most students by now will have seen him trotting about with me (or students!) on campus. He has effectively become the unofficial mascot of Divinity. I regularly receive emails from students that simply ask, ‘Can I borrow your dog?!’ The answer is of course almost always ‘yes’—and through this, I am able to care more effectively for my students and for Odin, all while producing world leading research and teaching.”

Dr Greene continued:

“The draft policies presently under consultation are poorly reasoned, unsupported by epidemiological data, and are ultimately not in the best interest of the campus community. Like Don Quixote, the policy tilts against imagined windmills to no quantifiable benefit. Instead of banning our best friends, the University ought to be considering how best to incorporate them safely.”

A poll of 50 UoA staff, students, and alumni found that 74% of respondents did not support a ban on animals, while 22% supported the proposal and 4% were not sure.

A number of students told The Gaudie that the presence of animals on campus creates a positive environment.

One student said: “Honestly just seeing a dog makes my entire day. If I have loads of classes it just gives me a wee boost.”

Another added: “Pets make campus a happier place, and there are staff members and students who may need to bring pets with them for various reasons. That flexibility needs to be there.”

However, supporters of the ban have said that it would lessen anxiety and help them to feel comfortable on campus.

A current student said: “As someone who has a really big fear of animals due to being attacked by a dog it would ease anxiety for me and would make it easier when staff want to bring pets to class as currently I feel like it’s hard to say no, especially since it’s not because of an allergy. However, it would be a shame for staff who need to bring their pets to uni to be able to look after them.”

Another student added: “As someone who is both quite allergic to and kind of wary around dogs due to attacks in the past, dogs being brought into classrooms/lectures etc have always stressed me.

“A ban on pets would be ideal for someone like me; or, at the very least, some sort of enforcement for student consent for a pet to be present indoors would be nice - it would at least give me the chance to take an antihistamine before class.”

Similarly, a member of staff commented: “Dogs make me anxious. Why should my workplace environment cause me anxiety, because someone brings their pet to work? You can’t take your pet to work at Asda, a school, a lab or the hospital. So why should it be allowed at the Uni? I should not have to suffer anxiety at work because you don’t want to leave your pet at home.”

However, some have suggested a middle ground.

One staff member proposed that limitations on the presence of animals in shared spaces could be a solution.

They said: “I think pets at work by and large make more people happy than they do anxious. UoA is an outlier in not having a ban and that is because we (majority of staff and students) did not want a ban last time and I think that sentiment remains.

“A good set of guidelines would protect people with anxieties or allergies. Pets / dogs not to be in shared space without previous consent. I have a number of colleagues who need to bring pets to work - they manage their interactions carefully and the workplace is better for them being there!”

In a statement, the University confirmed that a health and safety consultation is currently taking place.

A spokesperson said:“The University is currently consulting on an Animals on Campus policy to ensure everyone can feel safe and comfortable on our campuses. We know that animals bring therapeutic benefits to many but for others can cause issues with allergies or distress. Our policy aims to ensure that all voices are represented and that appropriate standards of animal welfare are in place when animals are on our campuses.”


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